Black Bean Soup is good food

When the weather gets colder soup becomes a very attractive meal. I love making soup for guests because I make it the day before and then have very little prep when people come over. This week I made black bean soup and I thought I’d share it because it’s ridiculously simple and tastes wonderful.

1 cup (ish) chopped onion

1 cup (ish) chopped carrot

1 cup (ish) chopped celery

1 seeded/chopped red bell pepper (can be yellow or orange)

1 seeded/chopped jalapeno (optional)

1 seeded/chopped habanero pepper (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cans black beans (sure, you can go to the trouble of soaking your own beans, but I don’t)

2-4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock to keep this a vegetarian dish) – amount depends on consistency you want

I happened to have matchstick carrots on hand for my salads-in-a-jar that I make for lunch at work, so I used those this time.


I like it spicy, so I use both the jalapeno and habanero peppers. The usual warnings about handling hot peppers apply! Carrots/onion/celery are a standard mirepoix that is a great start to any soup. After all the veggies are chopped, saute them in a large pot with about 4 tablespoons of butter (don’t forget the garlic!):


Once the veggies soften (this smells divine, by the way) add the black beans (do not drain) and stock:


Let this simmer a while (there is not a specific amount of time; you just want the veggies nice and soft). While it’s simmering, taste the broth – if you feel a need you can add red pepper flakes or ground pepper, but honestly I rarely need to do that. There is plenty of great flavor in the base ingredients.

This is a pureed soup. While you can now transfer to a food processor/blender to puree that is really kind of a pain. I highly recommend a stick blender so you can puree it right in the pot:



After pureeing, I let it simmer a bit longer so I can again sample for flavor. Then remove from heat, let the pot cool a bit, and cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. This really helps the flavors meld, plus it makes the next day’s meal a snap. Just reheat on the stove, and serve with some nice bread and fresh avocado (or sour cream, or whatever sounds good to you!).



Bon appetit!

I poached an egg!

This morning as I went through my twitter-feed while lying in bed (don’t judge) I ran across a tweet about a perfect poached egg (via @DrQuilter) and thought – why not?

So I favorited it because twitter doesn’t really have a “I might read this later” button and hitting “favorite” even if you’re not sure is the only thing you’ve got. This is annoying to those of us who value precision and accuracy (which are not the same thing, she said accurately) but I digress.

Later I got up and decided Saturday morning of a holiday weekend was a good time to go through a rather long list of “tweets-saved-for-later” and so I read the post about a perfect poached egg. It finished with this recipe:

If you’re going to poach an egg, and don’t want to spend 20 mins cleaning the pan here’s what to do:

  • Get some microwaveable clingfilm
  • Get a cup
  • Push the cling film into the cup, and crack the egg into the cling film
  • You should be able to tie the clingfilm around the top of the egg,
  • Drop egg into boiling water, and poach normally, it’ll taste great, and you wont have to spend ages scrubbing cooked on egg of the damn pan.

Note: I desperately want to correct the typos in this, but in the interest of accuracy I have simply pasted it in. I felt you should know.

Now, I’ve never poached an egg so “poach normally” was not actually useful instruction. I asked the internet and got “4 minutes in boiling water” as an average answer, so decided it must be true (it was on the internet, after all).

[I feel at this moment you might think I’m a pathetic cook. This is not true – I’m quite a decent cook and make up great recipes all the time. I am not a traditional cook in that I learned all the normal techniques one might expect a cook to know. But I can take stuff that is sitting around and make a tasty meal out of it, and usually healthy too. Soups are a favorite thing to make and with the coming of fall I may post a couple of my favorites. I also once took third place at a local chili contest I definitely should have won, but I digress. Again.]

“Well,” I said to myself, “the man is wending his way back home on airplanes and you’ve got a day to do whatever you want even though you already know that means yardwork even though you don’t really really want to do that it has to get done but first maybe you should try this egg-poaching thing.”

I’m a bit rambling when I talk to myself. Don’t judge.

So I went downstairs and got out the required ingredients and put a pot of water on to boil. Boiling water takes a while. I am not that patient, but I persevered. In the meantime I assembled the egg-in-clingwrap:

step 1: put the clingwrap in a bowl

step 2: crack egg into bowl-lined-with-clingwrap


Step 3: figure out how to “tie” the clingwrap around the egg


Gosh, doesn’t that look yummy?


So, I have an egg wrapped up in clingwrap…. And finally the pot of water boils. Woohoo! It’s time to POACH!

Step 4: drop clingwrapped egg into boiling water


Step 5: wait

I set the timer for four minutes. Four minutes is a surprisingly long time to stare at a clingwrapped egg in boiling water (yes yes, I took it off the boil briefly for the photo above). I made toast. I made coffee. I wandered outside and looked for frogs (spotted Uptown Frog, if you wondered). I came back in and watched the timer count down to zero.


Gosh, doesn’t that look yummy?


I set the thing onto a towel briefly to get the excess water off and then onto my plate, where I unwrapped my egg. If I never deal with hot wet clingwrap again, I’ll be fine with that. Also, perhaps some non-stick spray would have been a good idea. I will probably never know, because I am fairly certain I’m not doing this again.

uhm. Breakfast is served?

I got my toast and cut into my egg. Okay, that was pretty cool. Even though I have no doubt that Masterchef would be appalled at the technique, they could definitely not fault the yolk.

Yes. Breakfast is served.

Verdict: this egg tasted great. However, the trouble I went to was not worth the final product and I don’t think I will bother doing it again especially since I have a foolproof way to do eggs-over-easy without actually having to ever flip the egg (I will document this soon because I know you are dying to hear it now). It is much faster and also gets me the lovely yolk to go with my toast, which is all I really want anyway. Also, I make a great omelet. That’s not just my opinion. That’s the opinion of the people who have eaten my omelets. Perhaps I will share that someday too.

Do you have an easy and tasty egg recipe? Share it in the comments!

Avocado WHAT???

A friend of mine on twitter (@NomdeB – and if you’re on twitter you should check her out!) has been trying a lot of interesting recipes lately. She blew my mind when I read a tweet about how much she was enjoying avocado chocolate mousse.


I mean, honestly. I love avocado – a lot. I wish it were a little less calorific, but at least it’s healthy fats and it is very satisfying. I will have half an avocado as a side dish with dinner sometimes. Big fan. But I’ve never considered it a dessert food.

So, I was intrigued. She sent a link for a recipe (there are a LOT of recipes out there – astonishing!) and I bought a few avocados. Unfortunately, they needed more time to ripen because she had made it clear they needed to be really ripe and soft for this to work.

By the time they were ripe, I’d lost the link. She had send another in the meantime, but it was more complicated (i.e., more than three ingredients). I went online and poked around and decided that I could make it up myself. I’m like that in the kitchen. So I got out my ripe avocado, some honey, and some dark chocolate cocoa powder.

one ripe avocado for dessert, please.

I scooped my avocado out of its skin and pulled out the pit. Then I dumped some (okay, maybe three tablespoons?) of dark chocolate cocoa powder on it and some honey (again, maybe three tablespoons? I’m terrible with viscous liquid measurements). Then came the tricky bit.

You see, the recipes all assume you have a food processor. I don’t. My friend had told me she uses a blender – and while I do own one (a fairly recent acquisition) it wasn’t handy and I was ready to go. So, I dug out my inner pioneer woman and pulled out a potato masher. You heard me. I own a potato masher and I’m not afraid to use it.

I mashed and squished and mashed. Eventually it became clear that the smaller bits of avocado were not going to succumb to my potato masher skills – and nobody wants to find a green glob of avocado in their chocolate mousse. So, I got out a large spoon and started flattening the bits against the side of the bowl. This took a lot of time and dedication and I was wondering if @mamaofletters son might be able to do better given how dedicated he was to his celery/lettuce cake. I persevered until it was smooth.

Yes, I took a small taste at this point – and was amazed. It was chocolate mousse, and very rich. I divvied it into four small bowls and garnished with raspberries.

there’s avocado in this!

I offered my husband one but he demurred (mind you, it’s unclear he paid attention while I made this to realize what I was up to. He asked what I was making pretty far along into the process and I said “chocolate mousse.”) so I put three into the refrigerator and took one out to the deck.

It was gone quick. Very tasty and rich and chocolaty. The small portion was plenty and I suspect I will do this again – though I may get out the blender next time. Of course, the extra work I put into this meant I burned off calories so I enjoyed it even more!

Bon appetit.